|Europe: Western Front
|Overall: 20.2 x 25.1 cm (plate); 26.8 x 34.3 cm (sheet)
|United Kingdom: England
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain
This item is in the Public Domain
The dance of Death 1914-1918 Death refuses
No. 4 from a portfolio of 7 etchings, titled 'The dance of Death', features Death as a tangible image hovering ominously over the battlefield. The concept of dance of Death imagery began as a medieval allegory on the universality of death and the all-conquering and equalising power of death.
In this etching 'Death refuses', two soldiers lie at the bottom of a dark trench. one dying soldier lies entangled with his dying companion in a gas mask. He raises his arm in supplication toward the departing figure of Death who has turned his back on them.
Percy Smith was a painter, calligrapher and book designer. He began to etch in 1913. He served as a gunner in the Royal Marine Artillery on the Somme during the First World War. He surreptitiously made drawings of his war experiences while at the Front and because of this was arrested twice as a spy. Etching plates were smuggled out to him between the pages of magazines.